As a mother of three beautiful girls, I’ve always felt like the lioness who protected her cubs.
I’ve put their wellbeing and care above my career, my wants, and admittedly my own needs. However, lately I feel like I’ve failed my middle daughter Trinity. She’s a vibrant 4-year-old spitfire, who’s very active and loves karate.
Last August, as usual in the summers here in Northern New York, we were all enjoying our outside adventures the entire day. Now, I pride myself in being that mom, prepared with sunscreen, water, and bug spray. So, imagine my surprise when bathing my daughter, I find a dreaded tick on her back. I immediately panic, I want to rush her to the emergency room, but my husband talks me down and convinces me to wait to take her to the doctor the next day.
Come 7 am, I’m on the phone making a same-day appointment with our second Primary Care Manage (PCM) since living here. The doctor looks at me like I’m a crazy person when I show him the tiny tick I’ve saved in a piece of toilet paper; he looks over my daughter and doesn’t seem concerned. He mentions to me that they do not test for Lyme Disease unless there are symptoms. I had a gut feeling that something could be wrong, but I trusted the doctor, despite my instinct, and left without a test.
The next few months were very tough for Trinity. She kept having joint pain and mild fevers, every time I took her to the doctor’s office, they brushed it off as growing pains. Now on our third PCM, I still couldn’t get a Lyme Disease test for her. We had to pull her from karate because my active girl became lethargic and pain stricken.
November comes, and the temperatures begin to drop, now because of aches and pains, even going to school becomes a challenge. Then I get the phone call from her school, Trinity is crying in pain and can’t walk. I called her PCM and he immediately sends us to the emergency room. After x-rays and a slew of blood work they send us home with pain meds and anti-inflammatories. Within a week I get the dreaded news: my baby has Lyme Disease.
The problem is I knew it all along and I failed to be her advocate. What now? How do we get her better? We were officially out of the window for antibiotics to do anything; this is something she’ll have to live with the rest of her life. I was so undereducated and inexperienced in this area that fear took over my mind. So, I did what I do best – I started to research and learn about Lyme Disease.
It has been 9 months since I found the tick on her and 6 months since being diagnosed – she is doing better and we are managing the pain. Doctors would like to keep her on Ibuprofen daily, but I’ve chosen to take more homeopathic approach. With a combination of essential oils, warm baths, and chiropractors we are keeping her pain in control and the inflammation down. She’s almost back to her usual self.
If you learn anything from this, please follow your gut instincts; be the voice of your child. Spray them down with your favorite insect repellant and remember to check them for unusual bites, rashes, or fevers after they play outside. Also, listen to them – they know when something is wrong in their little bodies.
Here is the Mayo Clinic’s advice to avoid Lyme Disease:
- Cover up. When in wooded or grassy areas, wear shoes, long pants tucked into your socks, a long-sleeved shirt, a hat and gloves. Try to stick to trails and avoid walking through low bushes and long grass. Keep your dog on a leash.
- Use insect repellents. Apply insect repellent with a 20 percent or higher concentration of DEET to your skin. Parents should apply repellant to their children, avoiding their hands, eyes and mouth. Keep in mind that chemical repellents can be toxic, so follow directions carefully. Apply products with permethrin to clothing or buy pretreated clothing.
- Do your best to tick-proof your yard. Clear brush and leaves where ticks live. Keep woodpiles in sunny areas.
- Check yourself, your children and your pets for ticks. Be especially vigilant after spending time in wooded or grassy areas. Deer ticks are often no bigger than the head of a pin, so you may not discover them unless you search carefully.
It’s helpful to shower as soon as you come indoors. Ticks often remain on your skin for hours before attaching themselves. Showering and using a washcloth might remove unattached ticks.
- Don’t assume you’re immune. You can get Lyme disease more than once.
- Remove a tick as soon as possible with tweezers. Gently grasp the tick near its head or mouth. Don’t squeeze or crush the tick, but pull carefully and steadily. Once you’ve removed the entire tick, dispose of it and apply antiseptic to the bite area.